Institute of Education


St Philomena's: Professional Development Quality Mark

Embedding research and development into a Continuing Professional Development Programme.

St Philomena's Catholic High School for Girls (Supplied)

20 July 2018


The school had already introduced Action Research through department projects some of which were cross curricular. This featured in their submission of evidence for the PDQM Gold Award, but the school wanted to develop and embed Research and Development further into their Continuing Professional Development Programme and to involve many more teachers in a professional dialogue.


St Philomena’s approach to Professional Development is very much participatory with staff working together and developing a dialogue of learning. In 2015/16 all teaching staff opted into one of four strands (identified from their School Development Plan) to develop an action research project during 6 training sessions.

What is the Professional Development Quality Mark (PDQM)?

Professional Development Quality Mark
The PDQM was developed by experienced PD Leaders in partnership with specialists at the UCL Centre for Educational Leadership to improve professional development practice in schools and settings across London and beyond.


The school collaborated with the University of West London and the Academy for Innovation (who delivered their in-house Masters Programme) using a ‘Design, Discover, Develop, Deepen and Deliver’ framework. All teaching staff and learning supports took part in a two year SSAT national research project called ‘Embedding Formative Assessment’ (2015-2017).

18 workshops over the course of two years were delivered by a team of six teachers to enable staff to review research and formative assessment techniques and to trial and share outcomes. ‘Lesson Study’ was also embedded to encourage professional dialogue. A Breakfast Book Club was established and made open to all staff and included professional dialogue around books such as ‘Clever Lands’ by Lucy Crehan, ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers’ by Michaela Way or ‘The A Level Mindset’ by Oaks and Griffin.

St Philomena's students performing (Supplied)


Everything that is introduced or developed at the school is done with the students at the heart of the process. The use of student voice in professional development is strong and continues to move towards a more bespoke professional development programme to meet the needs of specific departments or individuals. One recommendation was to adopt a more strategic approach to professional development for support staff so a PD calendar for support staff alongside the PD calendar for teaching staff is being developed.

St Philomena's students sport (Supplied)

St Philomena’s continue to build professional development networks in the context of the PDQM framework and the recommendations for continuing improvement, earning SSAT accreditation for delivering a licenced training product to other schools and achieved Expert Centre status for the Global Learning Programme. Further afield, St Philomena’s also developed a PIXL (Partners In Excellence) International partnership with a school in Karachi, Pakistan providing training and ‘associate’ support to develop the use of PIXL strategies.

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